Meet two guys who are familiar with suffering. Almost daily, Paul and Silas ran into onslaughts from religious mobs and angry shopkeepers. From priests to businessmen, everyone went after them as they traveled from town to town, trying to silence their message.
Paul was on a life-mission, which he shamelessly stated in Acts 20:24, “What matters most to me is to finish what God started: the job the Master Jesus gave me of letting everyone I meet know all about this incredibly extravagant generosity of God.”
Bravely, they wind up in jail (again), beat up (again), guilty for being ambassadors of Truth. They couldn’t sleep, so they sang. Hymns echoed against the cold concrete of the prison. In between the choruses, they prayed, captivating an audience of fellow prisoners and guards in the dark!
Their friend Luke later accounted the astonishing actual events in Acts 16 that followed, “Along about midnight, Paul and Silas were at prayer and singing a robust hymn to God. The other prisoners couldn’t believe their ears. Then, without warning, a huge earthquake! The jailhouse tottered, every door flew open, and all the prisoners were loose.”
A song, a prayer, and an earthquake! It seems that God wasn’t so far away after all, rather invisibly present. When David wrote the inspired words way back when, “You inhabit the praises of your people” (Psalm 22:3 KJV), did God picture this future scene? Hmm.
Freeing Paul and Silas was only part of the rescue plan, which God orchestrated. What about the audience of deadbeats and condemned inmates? The earthquake shook their chains off as well. But why? They didn’t sing.
Paul and Silas worshiped God despite their present darkness. They sang through the pain. It was their authentic devotion to a God whom they believed and bet their whole life upon that freed the rest.
Freedom is contagious, and a simple song from an honest heart draws a response from the One who has power to set prisoners free.
What is worship to you? How have you learned to worship God in the midst of your own present darkness?
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